The correlation between Creatine & IGF-1
Updated: May 17
IGF-1 (Insulin like growth factor)
For most of the fitness enthusiasts out there who train regularly and lift weights, I'm sure you have heard of IGF-1. But if you haven't let me take a minute to digress into what this amazing hormone is and what it can do for you and your body when training.
IGF-1 is a hormone that is naturally produced by our liver in response to stimulation by the so-called super hormone, human growth hormone (HGH), which is released by the pea-sized pituitary gland located at the base of the brain. So if GH levels go up, so do IGF-1 levels and vice versa.
Both IGF-1 and HGH cause various body tissues to grow bigger and stronger - muscle being the most important one. IGF-1 significantly increases lean body mass, helping you burn fat and build up physical endurance. It also increases protein synthesis, which in turn prompts tissue repair and accelerates recovery from injuries. It is even said to control our brain via its neurotrophic (growth of new brain cells) and neuroprotective (protects the existing brain cells) mechanisms. Thus, as you can see it fosters a whole plethora of benefits when it comes to your physical and mental overall performance.
As you can imagine, having as much of this hormone present in your body, could be very advantageous to your workout if you are wanting to build muscle, burn fat and enhance your overall well-being.
What a lot of athletes and avid fitness enthusiasts don’t realize though is that there's one specific way we can elevate our IGF-1 levels by 30% during and before a workout. This can be done through the supplementation of the chemical 'Creatine'.
Now if you haven't done your research on creatine, don't worry there is plenty of material out there to find. But for the sake of this post I will briefly give you a run down of what is and how it can help you.
Creatine is a substance that is found naturally in muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. Chemically speaking, it shares many similarities with amino acids. Your body can produce it from the amino acids glycine and arginine.
Creatine most importantly helps you gain muscle in the following ways:
Boosted workload: Enables more total work or volume in a single training session, which is a key factor in long-term muscle growth.
Improved cell signalling: Can increase satellite cell signalling, which aids muscle repair and new muscle growth.
Raised anabolic hormones: Studies note a rise in hormones, such as IGF-1, after taking creatine.
Increased cell hydration: Lifts water content within your muscle cells, which causes a cell volumization effect that may play a role in muscle growth.
Reduced protein breakdown: May increase total muscle mass by reducing muscle breakdown.
Lower myostatin levels: Elevated levels of the protein myostatin can slow or totally inhibit new muscle growth. Supplementing with creatine can reduce these levels, increasing growth potential.
New research on Creatine has come to light that training individuals can greatly enhance their workouts and boost IGF-1 production within their muscles by 30%! Even before they’ve stepped into the gym!
This new information is exciting for anyone that lifts weights to improve their physique.
In a recent study, healthy participants loaded their muscles with creatine monohydrate for 5 days, which in turn resulted in a dramatic increase in the expression of IGF (I and II) in muscle compared to a placebo.
Amazingly, this 30-40% increase in IGF transcription was achieved before any exercise was even performed.
However, when the participants undertook an intense workout, the group that loaded their muscles with creatine monohydrate experienced a much greater anabolic response to exercise. So, if you are looking for that edge in your training, perhaps you want to be stronger, look fitter or build muscle quicker, you can't go far wrong with a little creatine in your diet.